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About HGSE

Henry Wyman Holmes, 1880-1960

Chair, Division of Education, 1912-1920
Dean, 1920-1940

Henry Wyman HolmesHenry Wyman Holmes was the inaugural dean at the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s establishment in September 1920. Prior to becoming dean, Holmes had succeeded Paul Hanus as chair of the Harvard Division of Education. He received his A.B. and A.M. degrees from Harvard where he had taken classes taught by Hanus. After Harvard, Holmes was the principal of Brookline’s Edward Devotion School and later the head of the English Department at Boston’s High School of Commerce. He returned to Harvard in 1907 as a lecturer in education and became an assistant professor in 1910. In 1912 he assumed chairmanship of the Division of Education and became a full professor in 1917.

Holmes was more of a diplomat than his predecessor and was able to maintain slightly more amicable relations with Harvard President A. Lawrence Lowell and the other Harvard University faculties. In 1927, Holmes organized a restructuring of the School that addressed some of Lowell’s concerns while still emphasizing the role education played in societal progress. HGSE’s revised mission stressed full-time over part-time enrollment and focused more sharply on the training of teachers rather than administrative positions.

The School’s admissions criteria became more selective and reached out increasingly to recent college graduates in addition to current practitioners. In 1933, James Bryant Conant became the new Harvard University president. Conant was more receptive to the challenges that educators faced in the United States and more appreciative to the approach taken by Harvard’s own professional school of education. The Master of Arts in Teaching (jointly administered by HGSE and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences) was established in 1936 with the aim of educating future secondary school teachers. It later became a model for teacher training programs in other colleges and universities.

Holmes resigned as dean in 1940 but remained a member of the faculty. He became a professor emeritus in 1947. With his twenty-year deanship, Holmes holds the distinction of being the longest serving dean in HGSE’s history.

About the Artist: Paul Moschcowitz, American, 1876–1942

Paul Moschcowitz was selected to paint the portrait of Dean Henry Wyman Holmes upon the recommendation of Alice Vanderbilt Morris (a Radcliffe College graduate and friend of HGSE). He had recently painted a portrait of her husband, Dave Hennan Morris (Harvard College, 1896). Moschcowitz was very enthusiastic about the commission as his son-in-law had graduated from HGSE and was well aware of the dean’s many accomplishments. The Harvard Chapter of Pi Lambda Theta, a national honor society for women in education, raised the funds necessary for the commission of the painting. The portrait was unveiled at the Harvard Faculty Club on December 11, 1940. In his first annual report as dean, Francis Spaulding reflected that the painting would be prized by the School “because of its faithful reflection of the personal charm and dignity which have given Dean Holmes a lasting place in the affection of his students and his colleagues.”

Moschcowitz was born in Giralt, Hungary, in 1876, immigrated to the United States in 1881, and became a naturalized American citizen in 1898. After beginning his education in New York City’s night schools, he studied at the Art Student’s League from 1894 to 1898. He took courses with Julian Alden Weir, George Willoughby Maynard, Henry Siddons Mowbray, and others.

Afterwards, Moschcowitz attended the Academie Julienne in Paris and also studied under James McNeill Whistler. Returning to the United States, he became an instructor at the Art Students League and the Pratt Institute. At Pratt, he taught classes in oil portrait painting. The bulk of his professional activities were devoted to portraiture though he also did some murals. His work included portraits of Kermit Roosevelt, Dave Hennan Morris (American ambassador to Belgium), Austin S. Iglehart (vice president of the General Foods Corporation), and T. Suffern Tailer (socialite and amateur golfer). His works were exhibited at the Paris Salon, Concoran Galleries in Washington, D.C., and at the annual exhibitions of the National Academy of Design. Moscowitz was a member of the National Academy of Design and the Society of American Artists. He also served as trustee to the Artists’ Aid Society of New York.

Moschcowitz passed away on January 4, 1942, at age 66.